29 April, 2011
I'm putting this prototype on my bike to see how well it works and lasts. It would be more expensive to make saddles this way, mostly from welding threaded bosses to the frame to accept the screws. And they are a little heavier. On the other hand, the top could be easily replaced and there are no rivets that stick up. If we made a titanium-framed version it might be truly great, and truly expensive. Wadda you think?
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:41:00 PM
28 April, 2011
Regarding fender installation, we still get a lot of questions about this and will soon have a video that should help. One of the most common errors in assembly that we see is folks putting the cup shaped washer on the eyelet draw bolt upside down, which allows the fender to rattle. This applies to Honjo and to VO fenders. Here is a photo of how everything fits together; notice that the bolt-head with the hole fits inside the cup:
As we get new production runs of fenders we are switching to two eyelet bolts per stay (except on the narrowest models since they won't fit). This is being done for a rather odd reason. Honjo fenders use two eyelets because they occasionally crack at the eyelet with only one. VO fenders have never had this problem, but so many customers equate two eyelets with better quality that we are adding a second. For what it's worth, if a fender cracks it's almost always at the seat stay or at the fork crown and usually because there is some built in tension.
This reminds me of those little diamond-shaped reinforcements plates you see at the seat stay bridge on some bikes. No one here has ever seen a seat stay bridge fail on a well-built frame, except for one that had those little plates (the brazer probably cooked the joint). Maybe they were needed for some super thin tubing or some frame builders added them for looks. Now many cyclist seem to think they are a hallmark of a quality frame. Perceived quality.
On another subject, The comments on the VO blog are surprisingly civil, at least compared to a few other blogs I read. We do very occasionally reject comments for the following reasons:
- Obvious spam or less obvious spam, like linking to another store or blog without it adding value to the conversation.
- General rude tone in a comment.
- Repeating an answer or explanation that has already been posted in another comment. It's simply polite to read the existing comments before posting so future readers won't have to read the same thing over-and-over.
- Containing information or advice that I know to be totally wrong or dangerous, doesn't happen often.
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:48:00 PM
25 April, 2011
We also have some new Grand Cru t-shirts. They are made from organic cotton. I'm a big advocate of organic cotton. Did you know that non-organic cotton uses approximately 25% of the world's insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides (including herbicides, insecticides, and defoliants)?
BTW, check out the outtakes from the t-shirt photo shoot.
Posted by Velo Orange at 2:20:00 PM
22 April, 2011
Here are a few updates on projects. We've received a bunch of e-mails asking about these.
Camping Racks- After much testing, fitting, measuring, and pondering the first prototypes, we sent off revised drawing for the camping racks. We hope to have second generation prototypes in about 6 weeks. I really want to get these right and am not pushing to have them done quickly. So there is no ETA; we'll do another round or two of prototypes if needed.
The new Polyvalent 650b- The final (I hope) upgraded fork is complete and should arrive here next week. If it is right we'll schedule production. The factory says they can complete the frames in about 3 months (add another for shipping) but there are always delays, always.
VO and Grand Cru cassette hubs- The high-low VO hubs are steaming toward us even as I write this, so late May. The high flange Grand Cru Touring hubs should be air-freighted around mid-May. We'll offer some on the site and have some built up into wheels.
The Freewheel- After about 1500 miles of testing the first one started making a clicking noise. We took it apart to find lot of wear, grit inside, and a bad ball bearing. If this is the best freewheel made in Taiwan, as I was told, then we're very disappointed. It's no better than any of the current offering. To make it right it would need proper seals, better bearings, larger pawls, etc. On the bright side, the cogs still looked great. Next time I'm in Taiwan I'll see how much it would cost to make the needed improvements, but I'm pretty sure that the tooling costs will be prohibitive.
Below is our new magazine ad. I guess we're finally going to start paying more attention to print advertising, something we've neglected up to now.
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:32:00 AM
20 April, 2011
Lots of VO components and accessories sell well beyond our expectations, but I thought I'd write about a few that don't. I really like these and don't understand why they are not more popular. Maybe if I explain why I like them?
VO Deep Half Clips are actually pretty popular and sell well enough, but I think they should be one of our top products. They are just so nice on city and utility bikes. Of course you can't pull up, as with toe straps, but being able to spin fast without slipping off the pedals is a big deal to me.
Finally, we put our sprung saddles, the Model 5 and Model 8, on sale. These are great saddles not only on city bikes, but also on touring bikes. They really help smooth out potholed roads. The only downside is the added weight of the springs and frame, a small price to pay for comfort if you're not in a hurry.
What's your favorite non-mainstream bike bit?
Posted by Velo Orange at 1:03:00 PM
15 April, 2011
In case you're interested, here is the link to RUSA (Randonneurs USA) which has more information and links to local groups around the country.
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:02:00 AM
08 April, 2011
You can give us a little help by telling us how long various freewheels you've used have lasted. And do you have thoughts about how/why they failed.
Also, we find that we have one 54cm VO Mixte frame left. It was used as a display and has a headset and BB installed, but is unridden. Update: it's sold.
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:36:00 AM
05 April, 2011
They are finally here and look really cool on our new track hub prototypes. They are forged from stainless steel, then CNC finished and polished. And check out the alloy keyed washers.
But the factory neglected to chase the threads so they don't spin on as smoothly as they should. Our staff has been opening the packages and chasing the threads by hand, but we can't do them all, too time consuming, and will send most back. We are only selling the ones that have been chased.
It really bugs me when this sort of thing happens. I suppose it's inevitable since VO introduces more new products than most companies five times our size. And new products inevitably have problems (just ask Apple). Still, it's not like we rushed these to market; the prototypes were absolutely 100% perfect. Nuts!
UPDATE: The factory has rethreaded all the wing nuts we sent back and air-freighted them back to us. We have wing nuts again and they work as they should.
Posted by Velo Orange at 4:02:00 PM
01 April, 2011
These past few days we've been tweaking the plans for the 700c version of the Polyvalent that we hope to introduce next year. A second prototype should be in the works soon with some small improvements and one rather major change.
First the easy stuff, this new frame has geometry that's a bit more touring oriented than the 650b version. That means slightly longer chain stays, a slightly shorter top tube, and full rack braze-ons front and rear. It will also probably have vertical drop-outs We are still discussing the final geometry and little details such as behind-the-seat-tube pump pegs and a kickstand plate.
The bigger change is one I've wanted to experiment with for many years. As you know, our designs are inspired by the French constructeur bikes, which I believe were the pinnacle of classic bicycle design. What you may not know is that there were several great constructeurs who worked not in steel but in Dural (or aluminum alloy). Perhaps the most famous of these was Pierre Caminade, who created fantastic touring, rando, and city bikes from lugged aluminum tubing. His bikes have a reputation for a silky smooth ride. Joel Metz's Blackbird site has a great section on Caminade's bikes and components.
Posted by Velo Orange at 10:50:00 AM